All over the world shower doors with clear or frosted (blurred) glass have surged in popularity in recent years, as real estate developers and homeowners alike getting a taste for modern minimal aesthetics and clean interiors. Fashion plumbing manufacturers, such as DreamLine, have responded by creating a wide selection of shower door and enclosure designs and styles. In fact, the abundance of models and variants already on the market is making the choice difficult for many builders, tenants, and property owners; glass options and hardware configurations may add to confusion as well.
At Bath4All, showers and other bathroom fixtures are the focus and our specialty, and we'd like to address some of these aspects of figuring out which shower door is right for you and your space. Whether you're remodeling your bathroom, or thinking about building a new home, we're confident that this guide will ease your creative endeavors.
Here we will focus on the latest and greatest development in shower door technology – frameless shower doors, – absence of the frame around the glass makes them incredibly versatile. Frameless shower doors don't use bulky mental framing, rubber inserts, and other materials that hold the glass panes in place, allowing them to visually and functionally complement any interior style, from rustic and traditional to contemporary chic and industrial. Another major plus in using a frameless shower door design is the ease of maintenance - a quick wipe with Windex is usually enough to get it sparkling. However, here we must note that the initial installation of a frameless shower door might be a bit more involved than working with a more classic framed style. We strongly advise to make sure the installation is performed by a trained professional, – shower doors in general don't make fun DIY projects, unless you really know what you're doing.
But once the installation has been completed successfully, a visually stunning glass shower door is one of the best bathroom upgrades you can make, leaving it feeling lighter, brighter and bigger.
On your journey towards the blissful bathroom experience you will likely encounter an industry distinction: fully-frameless and semi-frameless. Semi-frameless shower doors utilize long U channels at the bottom or on the sides of the door to secure it. Other frameless shower glass doors use clamps or clips to secure the glass door to the wall or a fixed glass panel. This is what we refer to as "fully frameless" when talking about shower doors. In both styles the material from which the hardware (hinges, u-channels, clips, handles, etc.) is made is of utmost importance. The glass panes can be quite heavy, and the hardware holding it must be able to bear all that weight, while ensuring structural integrity during use. Brass is often better at this than aluminum and many other materials. Don't worry about matching the colors to your existing visual themes – the hardware is usually coated with a choice of finish options, such as chrome, brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, stainless steel, etc.
Now let's examine the hardware options. Hinges allow swing doors to open and close. But installing a hinge on a glass door with no frame is a little different. The hinge must be able to support the weight of the door and allow for smooth operation. Typically shower doors come with three types of hinges: door-to-wall hinges, pivot hinges, and glass-to-glass hinges. It may be a good idea to ask a contractor which type would work best for your particular bathroom configuration. Keep in mind, glass-to-glass hinges are more challenging to install compared to a glass-to-wall hinges, and pivot hinges offer the advantage of a 180-degree swing for the shower door.
Another shower door configuration gaining popularity is the sliding type, where the door slides over instead of swinging inward or outward. Sliding doors utilize a system of rollers on the top along which the glass pane slides aside to open the walk-in area.
Frameless shower doors tend to carry thicker glass than framed variants to achieve proper support and integrity. Bath4All recommends using either a 3/8" or a 1/2" glass. Thinner glass may sound sleeker and more attractive, but in reality it will just wobble annoyingly every time you open and close it.
In addition to the thickness, the type of glass is also often one of the choices you will be faced with. Different manufacturers may have different options, but the most common types include clear glass, frosted, and smoky. The choice will be purely aesthetic and should reflect your personal preferences. Regardless of the style, make sure the glass is tempered. Tempered glass involves special manufacturing process that makes it stronger and ensures it doesn't shatter into sharp shards when broken. Instead, it breaks into tiny fragments with edges that aren't as sharp as normal window glass, which makes it less hazardous.
We hope this handy guide can make your planning and design decisions easier, and we hope you will end up with a frameless shower that suits your style and your bathroom space. And don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have during your search for the perfect shower door or enclosure!